Case studies

Case studies

‌‌Glasgow Science Festival offer a range of opportunities for training and professional development.  We asked previous participants about their experience working with Glasgow Science Festival, you can read their thoughts by expanding the sections below.

Media internship: Isa Rao

Without the media internship I would have never known how much I love filming, it really opened up a new world for me! - Isa Rao

 

What was the programme you participated in?

I took part in the Media Internship course in 2015 . Within my group I learned to shoot, edit and publish videos about exhibitions and events happening during that year’s science Festival.

Give an example of what you did?

We covered a variety of exhibitions, which involved some research beforehand, preparing and conducting interviews, the actual shoot and postproduction. One of our first videos can be seen on the Glasgow Science Festival YouTube channel.

What did you get from working with GSF? Did it lead anywhere?

I loved the whole experience and learned a lot especially in terms of how to handle a camera and how to edit video footage. We learned the basics of how to report on something in an engaging way, how to keep our viewers interested and how to work fast and within deadlines. I discovered my passion for filming and editing during the internship and went on to compete in the Sci Shorts event organised by Glasgow City of Science in 2015. My film went on to win a prize in the European science tv and new media festival. Without the media internship I would have never known how much I love filming, it really opened up a new world for me!

What inspired you to enter Sci Shorts?

SciShorts just seemed like the perfect opportunity for me to combine my scientific background and knowledge with my desire to point a camera at absolutely everything. We were challenged to create a one-minute movie that explained the concept of personalised medicine. That one minute format made it a fun, creative challenge!

What did you set out to do with your video?

I wanted to make people chuckle with my video entry for Sci shorts. Science communication needs to be fun or people turn away. So I wanted to create a video that stays in people's heads while delivering one key take-home message.

What do you think was the secret to your success?

Research. I did a lot of research on the topic but also on how to deliver science communication effectively in one-minute. There is so much material out there and you can self-teach yourself so much, even by just spending an afternoon on youtube, searching for other good videos and getting inspired by them.

Any key lessons learnt from the early videos or your more recent work?

What I have learned from filmmaking is to keep an open mind about how to tell a story. There are unlimited ways of engaging an audience and no matter if it is filmmaking, writing or anything else that involves communication, if you can surprise your audience they will be more open to hear what you have to say.

Any advice for new applicants to short film contests, like Sci Shorts?

My main advice is to go for it. These things always come with a deadline and it is so easy to find excuses to not enter. But it is always worth it, no matter the outcome because you learn and grow. Also don’t be discouraged if you don't have a professional camera or know anything about filmmaking- it is all about telling stories, and for that it does not matter what camera you have or if you have gone to filmschool or not.

What are you doing now?

Right now I am finishing my PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience. After that is all done and dusted I would like to work as a Freelance videographer and get into professional documentary film making. My first short film which deals with the lives of the inhabitants of one of Manila’s biggest cemeteries has recently been screened at international festivals and my latest short documentary idea has been commissioned by the Scottish Documentary Institute and Creative Scotland.

More info about my past and future projects can be found on www.isarao.com

 

Published March 2018


Glasgow Science Festival volunteer team - Cristina Marin

[Being a volunteer] definitely played a big part in me getting a place on a prestigious PhD programme, as well as a European Space Agency short course. - Cristina Marin

How were you involved with GSF?

I was involved with GSF as a volunteer with the organising team, which meant I got to do a wide variety of fun jobs, from setting up stalls in Kelvingrove Museum to showing kids how to make fluffy microbes or marshmallow DNA.

Give an example of an activity you have been involved with?

My favourite activity was science busking outside of Kelvingrove Museum demonstrating how different substances burn. All of course while wearing a lab coat and safety goggles!

What did you get from it?

So many things! Firstly, it made me more confident with public speaking. Making presentations for my course is an easy job compared to standing in front of a group of 10 school children asking impossible questions. Secondly, I met so many wonderful people that I have stayed friends with, and hope to keep in touch for many years to come. They're also great contacts to have in the science world. Thirdly, experience with public engagement is a great thing to have when applying for jobs. It definitely played a big part in me getting a place on a prestigious PhD programme, as well as a European Space Agency short course.  And finally, it was great fun!

What are you doing now?

I am currently in the final semester of an undergraduate degree in Neuroscience, and will go on to do a PhD in September. I also plan to keep doing science communication activities.

Would you recommend working with GSF to others?

Yes, with all my heart! It is such an amazing experience, the festival team are all great people to work with. I'm already planning my holidays so I can be here and free for GSF 2017!

Published March 2017


Professional Internship for PhD Students - Lynsey Carol

My three month long placement was a brilliant introduction to a job in public engagement which has opened my eyes to alternative job opportunities for after my PhD which I would have never considered before

‌‌
Lynsey with the flourecent flies at the tall ship, Glasgow.

What was the purpose of your placement with us?

I undertook the placement with the Glasgow Science Festival team as part of Professional Internships for PhD Students (PIPS) scheme run as part of my PhD programme. This scheme is run for all PhD students funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) which aims to give PhD students an opportunity to gain work experience outside of a lab environment. As most PhD students rarely get out of the lab it is extremely valuable to get a taste of an alternative career path to academic science especially as fewer PhD students are now choosing to stay in academic study past their PhD, especially female students. Students can choose to undertake a placement in any subject or field as long as it involves time outside of lab work, for me personally, it gave me an opportunity to get involved with something I had always wanted to do but felt I had never had enough time to do as an undergraduate student – Public Engagement. I got in touch with the Glasgow Science Festival (GSF) and the whole team were extremely welcoming and great mentors during my time there. My three month long placement was a brilliant introduction to a job in public engagement which has opened my eyes to alternative job opportunities for after my PhD which I would have never considered before the placement.

Give an example of what you did?

As part of my PIPs placement I worked with the Glasgow Science Festival on their project : a Shedload of Science. The shedload project was piloted in 2014 and funded by the Royal Society of Chemistry and due to its success gained funding for a second year in 2015 which was when I began my placement. The project aimed to take chemistry in to the areas of Glasgow that needed it most by targeting both schools and community groups. I filled the role of scientific researcher as one of  the main aims of the project was also to act as a skill exchange opportunity between youth art workers and scientific researchers.  The project had a three week long delivery period both in schools and in the community and it also included several  8 week long community workshop. My main achievement during my placement was working on a collaboration with youth workers to create and deliver content at two 8 week long workshops for both young children and vulnerable adults. These workshops focussed on a theme of UV light, Fluorescence and chemistry. This involved delivering content such as fluorescent fruit flies, UV volcanoes and determining the difference between UV and fluorescence through a mix of science and art. My other role was trialling different evaluation methods that would suit the needs of audiences in more deprived areas. I helped trial sticker and chalk boards and different questionnaires to fully evaluate the audience’s experience. It was a fantastic project that gave me the opportunity to experience the full work flow of organising a big science outreach event from the planning, to executing the events, having fun engaging the public with the actual science and the evaluation at the end.

What did you get from it?

Overall, my internship greatly enhanced my communication skills, project planning and team working skills. When working together with GSF and the youth workers to create and deliver the shedload programme I experienced working with lots of people with very varied skill sets and it was inspiring to see people combining creative, artistic skills with science, something you rarely experience otherwise during a typical PhD. I feel the best skill I obtained from my placement was learning how to break down complex ideas and to make them more accessible to different age and ability groups. This was really difficult at first and felt like learning a whole new language for describing science, one I wasn’t used to during my PhD. Now I feel I can talk confidently about any science concept to anyone, this is something which I can now apply to my own research project and it has greatly enhanced my science communication skills.  I also really enjoyed interacting with the public and discussing science with different people from school children to elders in the community and seeing the difference it made to them was extremely rewarding.

What are you doing now?

Now I am continuing on with my PhD at Glasgow university where I work on research on bowel cancer in fruit flies. I am in my third year now with only one year left to go. Although my research is taking up the majority of my time and I am enjoying working towards the end of my PhD I am also still continuing to do science public engagement whenever I can. I still get involved where I can from events at the science festival, open days at my institute and I recently undertook a trip to France taking science outreach in to schools there, and so Public engagement is definitely something I will continue to do in the future.

January 2017

 


Professional Internship for PhD Students - Emma Smith

The PIPS scheme is a great opportunity to gain transferable skills, to explore different careers and build relationships outside academia. -  Emma Smith


Emma (left) delivering her activities at a community event at Castlemilk Stables

What was the purpose of your placement with us?

As part of the BBSCR WestBio DTP programme, I had the opportunity to undertake a three-month professional internship in a non-academic setting. The PIPS (Professional Internship for PhD Students) scheme is a great opportunity to gain transferable skills, to explore different careers and build relationships outside academia.

Give an example of what you did?

During my internship, I worked on the Shedload of Science project, funded by the Royal Society of Chemistry. I helped deliver the project to schools around north Glasgow, facilitating fun lunch time chemistry activities for pupils in P1-7. I also helped showcase Shedload activities/experiments to a number of organisations situated around north Glasgow, including housing associations, community gardens, outdoor/creative play groups and after school care groups. This event was designed to give organisations the tools and confidence to build STEM into their areas of practice. Throughout my internship, I had the opportunity to create my own public engagement material including “how to” videos/GIFS and activities/experiments.

What did you get from it?

Throughout my internship, I have gained insight into the world of public engagement, and developed many new skills. My ability to translate scientific concepts into age/audience appropriate language has improved, enhancing my science communication skills. In addition, my confidence and creativity within the public engagement setting has greatly improved. I feel that I am now more able to create activities to present aspects of my own research.

Glasgow Science Festival are a friendly, supportive and encouraging team, and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with them.  I recommend that future PhD students complete their internships with GSF - Emma Smith

What are you doing now?

I have returned to full time research to complete my PhD.

Published March 2018


Post-graduate internship: Emma Woodham

Activity design, event coordination and risk assessment are a big part of my role here at Glasgow Science Centre so that experience was invaluable and made my application for the role stronger. - Emma Woodham

How have you been involved with Glasgow Science Festival?

During the first year of my PhD I was keen to build on my public engagement skills, so I took part in the internship programme. It was a great opportunity to meet and work with students from other disciplines, under the mentorship of Debbie . In the following years, I took part in the Science Festival as part of the Cancer Research UK team as they funded my PhD. I helped run activities as part of the Science Festival both up in the Beatson Institute and at Science Sunday, again providing an opportunity to gain experience in public engagement.

Give an example of what you developed?

As part of the internship programme, we developed an activity around imaging in science, from sea life all the way down to DNA. Our activity had three parts. The first used a thermal imaging camera to detect injury in a seal stuffed toy. In the second we used a microscope to view cheek cells samples from participants, and in the last we used another microscope to show sets of chromosomes to discuss the process of karyotyping. We also developed posters to support the activity.

What are you doing now?

I am a Science Learning Coordinator at Glasgow Science Centre. My role is very varied, fun and rewarding. No two days are the same, but I spend time developing and delivering engaging and interactive workshops, shows and many other events.

What did you get from the experience with Glasgow Science Festival?

It taught me a lot about how to design an engaging activity, and also to plan and risk assess an activity to ensure it runs smoothly. Activity design, event coordination and risk assessment are a big part of my role here at Glasgow Science Centre so that experience was invaluable and made my application for the role stronger. It was also an opportunity to build group working skills and make great friends from other disciplines, while learning about their research.

Would you recommend the PGR internship to others?

I would encourage postgraduates to take part in the internship programme, weather they are interested in a career in science communication or would just like to try something a bit different. Many students will graduate with a postgraduate degree, but participating in this internship helps build many other transferrable skills in addition to bench work which makes graduates more attractive to potential employers.

 

 Published March 2018


Post-graduate internship: Claire Donald

What was the programme you participated in?

Having a background in understanding how to effectively communicate complex science to a variety of audiences has helped immensely with [media interviews and events] and made them much less daunting experiences. - Claire Donald

I took part in the Glasgow Science Festival PGR internship to develop an activity we showcased at the GSF Science Sunday event.

Give an example of what you developed?

The theme of our activity was ‘Gene Expression’. We split our activity into 3 stations and visitors looked at 1) what genes are and why its important for the body to modulate their expression, 2) how viruses can be altered to express human genes, and 3) how we can use these altered viruses to treat certain conditions caused by irregular gene expression. To help us do this we used a paddling pool and a nerf gun!  

What did you get from it?

The internship was a great experience to work with like-minded PhD students who are excited about what they do and want to share that with the general public. I thought it was a fantastic opportunity to be able to put together your own activity, from design to execution, and to be able to get involved during the Science Festival. It helped me begin to understand what goes into making a good outreach activity- and it was a lot of fun doing it.        

The GSF team are a wealth of knowledge when it comes to science communication and public engagement. Brainstorming with them is great for helping put together something that’s fun and engaging whilst still being understandable to a wide audience. This is especially helpful when you run the risk of letting your imagination go a bit wild…. 

What are you doing now?

I have now finished my PhD but I’m still at the University of Glasgow working on Zika virus. There has been a lot of media coverage around the virus and the work that we have been doing on it and over the past year or so I’ve done TV, radio and newspaper interviews, as well as a number of local public engagement events- including a panel discussion at the 2016 Glasgow Science Festival. Having a background in understanding how to effectively communicate complex science to a variety of audiences has helped immensely with these and made them much less daunting experiences.      

Would you recommend the PGR internship to others?

Yes I would. If you enjoy science and public engagement – this is for you!

January 2017


Post-graduate internship: Charlie Gillies

What programe did you participate in?

I was involved in the Post Grad Internship programme and developed science activities for Science Sunday as part of a group of other PhD students in Science & engineering. Experiments were aimed at primary school age groups and designed to be engaging for the parents as well.

Give an example of what you developed

We developed ‘The Great and Powerful Fizz’; a set of experiments celebrating the uses of sodium bicarbonate in industry and science, through to home baking and even car screen rain repellent.

What did you get from the experience?

I feel the experience helped further develop my science communication skills, especially with the emphasis being on primary school age groups. I met an amazing and diverse group of people and learned a bit more about their particular science disciplines.
The main thing I got from this experience was the way in which so many aspects of science can all contribute to the one theme. I loved the idea of being given the opportunity to help inspire the next generation of scientists.

What are you doing now?

Currently, I am in the third year of my PhD researching whether it is possible to identify landslide precursors prior to failure events.

Would you recommend the PGR internship to others?

Yes, I would recommend the PGR internship to others. It can help improve presentation skills, give exposure to talking to large groups and of course feeds into the aim of making science more accessible.

Charlie Gilles ,PhD Candidate, 
School of Geographical & Earth Sciences, University of Glasgow
Published March 2018


Honours project supervision - Lydia Nicol

Deborah was very supportive and encouraging, and was extremely helpful in collating my work into a formal qualitative research dissertation. - lydia Nicol

‌How were you involved with Glasgow Science Festival?

My first involvement with Glasgow Science Festival was with Deborah McNeill who acted as a supervisor for my Honours project.

What was your project about?

I choose to do an outreach project for my honours dissertation. This was focused on Parkinson’s Disease and I collaborated with Parkinson’s UK, the UK’s largest Parkinson’s Disease Charity. I wanted to focus on research being done on Parkinson’s Disease in Glasgow, as one of PUK’s biggest research schemes was being lead by Dr Grosset at Glasgow's Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. My project also sought to link local Parkinson’s support groups to this current research as I found that individuals with P.D. wanted to know more about the different types of research being carried out on the disease.

Give an example of what you did?

I wanted to make sure that this research was being communicated and received in a setting that was comfortable with the Parkinson’s support groups and the general public. The most popular response from the survey I carried out was to have relaxed talks in a café setting, where several researchers spoke to the public about their area of interest.

What did you get from working with GSF?

Deborah McNeill, Director of the Glasgow Science Festival was one of my advisors and supported my project by helping me with several planning aspects. I was given advice on how to get the best responses from my surveys, allowed access to the GSF social media and how best to run a public engagement event. This was something I had not done before, and I was unsure how best to co-ordinate and run a smooth event. Deborah was very supportive and encouraging and was extremely helpful in collating my work into a formal qualitative research dissertation.

What are you doing now?

After my project, I worked on a summer programme run by Glasgow Science Festival, Shedload of Science. I was then recruited by Science Connects, working on the STEM Ambassador programme linking volunteers in STEM careers to schools through out the West of Scotland. After working for several months as an administrative assistant with Science Connects, I was then promoted to a STEM-Ambassador Co-ordinator and lead the 6th years STEM Ambassador scheme in Glasgow.